Our interest in birds, butterflies and dragonflies

David started birding in the fall of 1967 in New York City. He introduced John to birding in 1977 in Vancouver.

In 1978 they moved to San Francisco where for many years they were very active birders.  They traveled to many places in the west looking for birds getting as far east as Texas.

While on a birding trip to Arizona in May 1998 we ran into Hank Brodkin at the Beatties where he was identifying butterflies.  It was there that we realized that it was possible to actually look for butterflies and identify them using only binoculars.  Although we casually watched butterflies all along, we first began to seriously look for them on a July 1998 trip to Yellowstone National Park.  In 1999 we started to make regular butterfly trips around home and further.

These were the days before butterfly guides appeared that were written with watchers in mind.  Part of the reason we did not do butterflies earlier is that we thought we had to collect and mount them.  We are not opposed to that activity.  It is just that we weren’t interested in all the work of making and maintaining a collection.  I can remember sitting at picnic tables in campgrounds surrounded by various books available at the time which were geared for identifying butterflies in the hand.  And this was pre-digital camera so we had to try to remember what we saw since the guides we had were of limited value in the field.

In 2000 Dragonflies through Binoculars by Dunkle was published and we began to make some casual observations of dragonflies.  Then in 2003 Manolis’ Dragonflies and Damselflies of California appeared and for the first time we also had a reference for damselflies.  This compact book is a real field guide which were began to carry with us when we were out in the field.

Looking at the observations listed on Kathy Biggs California dragonfly site in 2004 we realized that it was possible to search for dragonflies in the same way we had previously searched for birds and butterflies.  So we began to actively search out dragonfly sites.  Kathy’s site also alerted us to various areas in California where certain species could be found.

Over the winter in 2004-2005 we made a list of dragonflies that occur in California which we had not seen yet.  By looking over the records shown on Kathy Biggs site we figured out where they could be found and when.  So in 2005 we set out to look for the dragonflies which we were missing.  This took us all over the state.  We ended up finding 104 species in California that year which apparently was a new record for a year list in that state.  So we actually did a “big year” without even planning to do one.

Some additional information about this year can be seen at the following link:

California Big Year

This was also the year we began to take two-week trips in November (over John’s birthday) to the lower Rio Grande Valley in Texas.  We took these trips for five years between 2005 and 2009.

While living in San Francisco we traveled extensively over the western United States looking for butterflies and dragonflies.  We visited Arizona and Nevada multiple times.  We got as far north as Washington, Idaho and Montana; and as far east as Colorado and New Mexico.

We moved to Sandhurst Shores in November 2010.  David visited here briefly in June and July 2010 while John was here from that time until early fall.